The Nature of Mortal Illness

p
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As a kid skeptical of pollen plumes making my skin ash, mind migraine heavy,

and nasal cavity a sanctuary for deformed crustaceans seeking terrible refuge

 

in a false moisture           I wanted to believe this question:

 

are my brothers and sisters debris humming because they’re what’s left?

 

 

I’m no oceanic world, no fossilized imprint subject to excavation, but a man

sickness has left well enough. Common cold; chromosome infection; viral

                      ethnography; Southwestern desert lung fungus.

 

 

If there’s safety within the earth then I’ll go there. Otherwise, where do I find me?

Is it clear Gila Monsters border extinction? You endangered or enamored with this

 

                                            development?

 

 

Flint, the sacred bolt of thunder, the syringe end of lightening can turn body to ribbons,

quilt it mosaic again. Can burn a thirsty land. Can armor one against the ill world and

 

                          suffocate today’s protective notion of tomorrow.

 

In our history the Gila Monster might tell you, get your sickness away from me. But it’s

only to teach you to ask questions correctly, offer the necessary smoke, dispel phobia

and the impatience for curmudgeons with wandering syntax.

 

Lesson: if it kills you spit at it for sure, kick dirt its way. If it reminds you of your ways,

your doubts and regrets, and that shitty relative who molested you, curse it. Shake its hand,

 

which is the hue of your hand,           with black magic

 

 

ground fine from a loved one’s bones. Remember? An agreement with death for Death?

New tract home subdivisions explode from an imploded aquifer crusted with alkaline

 

                                            skeletons

 

shaped like a brontosaurus. We’re headed there right? A studied, imagined subterranean

being/thing explicated, sited as superfund. That earth great once like a marauder/murderer

                            but more Billy Ray Cyrus than Prince.

 

 

When prospectors and pioneers sweated this tierra, this nahasdzáán they feared the toxic

breath and bites of damn near every living thing, see? See, this now. The earth and its things:

 

medicinal/panacea/antipsychotic           whatever the fuck, labeled illegal unless pharmie.

 

 

As a kid, when I think of it now, I was stupid; Grunge trodden and late-blooming bony I wanted

to breathe the confidence to say nice things, to experience keggers. However, I was opposite the

decorated locker and shower room. If I possessed venom I was built over and unable to relocate. But this isn’t about high school, which doesn’t matter.

                                    It’s burial. In tradition and home.

 

 

Beyond the urban-heat of this concrete desert on land as barren and at times hot, piles of yellow

cake decorate Dinétah like the tempting skin of Dart Frogs. Nature’s governance: protection.

When we fail our hearts the blame is inverted           like ice caps for summer

 

 

a crucifix for clean water and flowers. It can’t end this way: the wind, exterminator, a great prop

 

           plane dusting the world. A heart so un-heart it forgets itself.

Bojan Louis is a Diné writer living in La Rioja, Spain, with a first collection of poetry forth-coming in 2017.

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Further Reading

 April 4

Official oversight commissions tend to perform all of the trappings of democratic accountability while rarely resulting in lasting reform.